Voices by Selma PeAr

SO honored to have been asked to be part of RIT MFA student Selma PeAr’s Voices which she managed to complete smack in the middle of the pandemic  shutdown. Directed by Selma and also featuring Komal Ashfaq (who was also the Producer) and Lani Dobson, this film is a beautifully subversive statement about where women stand today. CT Chen was the DP, with Robert Stokes as First AC, Nolan Kearney as Second AC, Zack Stone as Gaffer, and Creighton Yanchar as Sound Mixer. Congratulations on a wonderful, RIT Honors Show-selected film, everyone!

mari jaye blanchard in Voices by Selma PeAr

Komal Ashfaq in Voices by Selma PeAr

Lani Dobson in Voices by Selma PeAr

Taking the High (res) Road

During production of Swing, we anticipated and encountered early the issue of resolution for the over-fifty 2D, alpha-channel videos that needed to be playing for the entire duration of the film. There were two major bottlenecks in regards to optimization, the 2D looping animations and the 2.5 Quill animation, exported as geometry and separated frame by frame in Maya. The “weight” of these assets made playback virtually impossible on certain systems, and even after the most recent and “final” optimization for distribution, I, the director of the film still cannot play Swing on my own personal headset, which is capable of playing most other Oculus downloads.

One of the problems that we ran into was having 54 animated souls spinning around the scene for the entire five minute duration while maintaining a high level of detail. One way to tackle the problem was to create a 4k video file and use that as a texture on a cylinder. The first attempt was to squeeze the aspect ratio into a square. When attached to the cylinder, the animation had a bit of aliasing. While being at 4k, the resolution was not as high quality as we would like. Larger than 4k and the whole animation experience would make the system slow down and stutter. The next option we tried was to make a square format video but have the images in a 16:9 format to then project on the cylinder. This ended up also not having enough resolution as well. The last option that enabled the higher quality while maintaining playability was to use flipbooks. Each soul was converted into a flipbook image using GlueIt2006. In Maya, every other polygon was deleted. Then on each of the remaining faces, we applied an individual shader with a UV space of (0,1). When brought into Unreal each shader was replaced with an animated flipbook. Each image is 3600×4800. We are currently researching how to lower the resolution for lower powered machines to check the frame rate and switch automatically to give the best playability.

(Blanchard/Reisch 2020)

Shining a Light on Arcs…

I noticed students were having a bit of trouble following arcs in their last assignment, so today I handed them flashlights and asked them to act out a simple action.  We took long exposures of four seconds of movement to see that every action was filled with traceable arcs…I was pleasantly surprised at the results!

In a previous life…

For over a decade, my day job was painting murals for Trader Joe’s.  I recently gave up this position, but I figured I’d post some of the oldies but goodies…and by goodies I mean candy or cake! :)

I made hundreds of these painted cut-outs over the years, if I find another chunk of them I’ll post them as well.

Most hand-lettering in these images was done by the wonderful Jason A. Hernandez.

My Favorite Holiday…


For some it’s turkey at Thanksgiving, others it’s presents at Christmas, but for me it’s the weeks leading to October 31st that warm my heart and rekindle my faith in humanity.  In those weeks, I get to crack open my silicone prosthetic kit in anticipation of what kind of creature I am going to be, knowing that people across the globe, young and old, are all doing the same.  This is the Exorcist punch bowl I made for last year’s Halloween party hosted at my friend Aaron’s loft in Manhattan.  I do not know how many people actually took a taste of whatshe was serving, but it worked like a charm otherwise.

Here’s a video of the punch bowl in action: